Are you still hiring paper shufflers as a project manager?

Author: Lode Verbruggen

Executing transformation projects is key to thrive or even just survive for organisations in the current market. Your day to day operations gets you by today, but not tomorrow. Therefore, making sure that your projects are successful and deliver the required results should be top of mind of CxO’s. So, if these projects are so vital for your organisation, why are you still hiring paper shufflers as your project managers and PMO officers? I bet you know a paper shuffler. It’s the project manager who believes that a project consists of certain activities that need to be executed according to a predetermined plan and who thinks it’s only his or her job to just plan the resources and report progress to the steering committee.Today however, the world of project managers and PMO officers has evolved tremendously, due to 3 worldwide trends! Let’s have a look!

Millennial generation


Millennials will soon dominate the workplace, and this also effects the way projects will be executed.

Millennials use other methods of communication, as they seem to prefer social collaboration over one-to-one emails. Check-in meetings are great, email updates are helpful, but nothing provides a clearer window into the progress toward a goal than using collaborative communication tools like Jira, Smartsheet or Slack. Slack is a place where your team comes together to collaborate.

You can set-up different channels, organized by project and / or team to have great discussions. You create a database of shared knowledge and project updates that are within reach for all team members.

Not only do they communicate in other ways, Millennials like to do things in an agile way as well. As they recognize the need to respond faster and deliver more value, working with an agile mindset will be indispensable to achieve this.

Millennials will always be looking for ways to make impact faster and deliver more value. Projects that have ever lasting design and construct phases, will make millennials loose attention and drive them towards your competition.


Economic climate


Projects are not immune to the effects of the changing business climate. Project managers & PMO officers feel this more than ever through various consequences. These include scrutiny over budgets and over-ambitious timeframes, which leads to doing more with less resources at a quicker pace.

Meanwhile, stakeholders have higher expectations as they are depending on these projects to make their competitive advantage stronger. Evolutions in technology, such as analytics, internet of things, cloud-based platforms etc., bring their own set of challenges resulting in great complexity in project delivery and increased project risks.

Disruptive technologies


New technologies are popping up everywhere and are having, or will soon have, massive impact on many organisations and the way they do business. They have become part of our daily (work) life. When conducting a project, you can not stay isolated from these disruptions. Technologies change and evolve so fast, that projects that last for let’s say 6 months and stick to the original plan, might deliver something that is outdated or doesn’t provide that edge anymore to the organisation. And this is not only valid for “IT” related project, “business” projects will be affected by this as well.

So, today’s (“business / IT focussed”) project managers need to have a high degree of affinity with new technologies and understand the impact they might have on their projects, in order to make key decisions and ensure the value the project delivers will still be relevant at project close.

Next to disruptive technologies, there is an increased use of and reliance on data. Data analytics has taken a high the last few years and also in project management / PMO it is being used more and more to gather insights into project performance, reveal issues in planning and schedules, … All leading to a better decision-making process based on true facts and data.

This trend is also increasing the use of project management tools to store and collect the required data to run the analytics.


Today's project managers need a different skill set than 20 years ago!


These 3 worldwide influences give a new dimension to project management and PMO.

Project managers need to combine business related aspects of projects, with strategy and the operational hands-on approach to get things done. Both a thorough understanding of the business functioning and knowledge about the impact and use of new technologies is becoming indispensable for any project manager.

Project managers have also an important leadership role as they need to articulate a vision to inspire and motivate their teams, and make key content decisions to ensure value delivery. And all together, they need to do this through agile ways of working, supported by the right techniques combined with using the latest PPM tools that fits the purpose!

So think twice before hiring your next project manager / PMO officer and make sure the skill set of “The New PMO” is present!

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